Minister in favour of return to traffic cops
By Patrick Gower
4:00 AM Friday Dec 11, 2009
Judith Collins checks a reinforced frontline police vehicle yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Police Minister Judith Collins has backed the commissioner's plan to use specialist traffic officers to issue speeding tickets, saying "people don't join the police force to sit behind speed cameras".
Commissioner Howard Broad is proposing to use "transport enforcement officers" to help patrol the roads, rather than relying just on fully sworn constables.
The new-look officers would be authorised with enough powers for the job.
They would remain under the control of the police and free up sworn officers for fighting crime.
Mr Broad has said there needed to be a national discussion about the optimum mix of sworn officers, authorised officers and technology such as speed cameras used for road policing.
Ms Collins said Mr Broad's proposal made a lot of sense.
Mr Broad told Parliament's law and order select committee on Wednesday that civilians were now used to operate speed camera vans, but using a radar gun requires a police officer with power to stop a vehicle.
He could give these limited power under the Policing Act's "authorised officers" section.
Mr Broad told the committee he was uncomfortable with fully sworn police being used for road policing, as they were just "sitting there with their radar gun" and could instead be used for jobs such as neighbourhood policing.
Ministry of Transport traffic officers who patrolled in black and white patrol cars were a separate entity until they merged with police in 1992.
Mr Broad said yesterday he was not advocating separating road traffic police from the force but "there are parts of the road policing role we could handle more efficiently".
He said as an example radar speed detectors could more easily be overseen by speed camera operators and sworn officers could be used for other policing.
Ms Collins yesterday inspected a range of high-tech police vehicles which are being put into frontline service, including an armed offender squad command vehicle.
It is a self-contained command centre capable of being used anywhere, and designed to be the control point for the squad's operations.
She also inspected a "concept car" which was fitted with a mobile data screen, in-car video and real-time automatic vehicle location.
Other vehicles included the latest versions of prisoner transport vans, team policing vans, new speed camera vans and a utility-based dog wagon.
By Patrick Gower | Email Patrick